Sagarika’s altruism works through ‘Bhakti’

By Neena Badhwar

Sagarika Venkat’s devotion to dance spilled on stage during her solo recital based on the theme the likewise title – Bhakti’.

For one so young, the sense of devotion she displayed to dance comes from the deep place of caring and compassion.  Young Sagarika says this is paramount to her in her life’s approach, “Caring for the ones who need it most. Not merely thinking about it but bridging the gap between intention and action. She says ”˜If we are to help those who are in need we must do so in a manner that is not just lip service to the cause’.

Proceeds of the evening were dedicated to the education of a six-year-old girl Darshini sponsored through Satguna Sangraha Trust in Bangalore.

Under the arc of lights, Sagarika entered looking like a porcelain doll. I wondered ”˜how young she looks ? Will she stand through for the rest of the evening?’.

But her captivating performances starting with the Ganesha Stuti established her as a dancer who was well and truly beyond her years. She prostrated to the Lord who removes obstacles exuding a confidence of a seasoned adept dancer from the beginning

Like a princess she held her audience in awe as she proceeded to dance on Lord Srinivasa,  the cohort of Goddess Lakshmi. Sagarika depicted Lord Shrinivasa in all his magnificent forms in dasavataram. She expressed various moods of the Lotus-eyed lord who when invoked showers all his love and wealth.

Sagarika worked through nimble fast footwork maintaining angular hand postures in unison with expressive detail covering the entire stage with an uncanny and unbounded energy effortlessly, only possible with many hours of practice and proper guidance from her Guru and mother Manjula Venkat.

At one point, it felt as though she had transformed into one who had merged herself with the Supreme Lord, Himself.  Her performance beautifully balanced between fast movements, jathis and captivating sculpturistic poses.

In the Varnam, Sagarika as Lord Krishna, the protagonist excelled in her depiction of His pranks as a child stealing butter, mother Yashoda chastising him, Krishna teasing Gopis and playing pranks with them, stealing their clothes, and then taking that an innocent dip in the ocean leading to the capture and conquest over the thousand-headed snake, Kalinga.

Through all these stories her expressive eyes and coordinating hand and foot gestures held the audience captive, even as she lifted her finger up to depict Krishna holding the Govardhan Mountain, she held her audiences attention in her fingers.

Sagarika is a lightening dancer, demure yet works her movements so fast that at one point when one of the jhumkas detaches from the earring and falls to the floor going round and round next to her, while she is deeply engrossed lost in the dance.

Her sculpturistic poses elicited claps from the audience who were totally enamoured by this little danseuse,  aged 11-years-old and a class six student.

Sagarika’s maturity in her dance and movements is at par with any dancer much more mature than Sagarika’s age.

In a Kriti by Anadi Shashgiri Acharya in Aditalam, she brought Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance to life. One legged poses, balanced across many jathis thrown in between. It was a delight to see Sagarika transform from the little Krishna to the powerful dark God Shiva.

She then portrayed the ever devoted monkey God, Lord Hanuman. His visit to see Sitaji in Ashok Vaatika carrying the message and ring of Rama.

With a cheeks filled out and puffed like Hanuman, the most devoted follower of Lord Shri Rama, Sagarika turns into the devotee herself. She opens her heart to reveal the picture of Lord Ram and Sitaji. It was a delightful performance of sheer bhakti.

Sagarika has performed in over 100 dance performances, in India and Australia. We hope that she will keep on entertaining us with many more such solo recitals. We hope that the community provides upcoming talent like her  opportunities to perform widely at well known and mainstream Australian Festivals.

For how long should artists like Sagarika only perform to Indian Audiences. After all we now live in a multicultural eco system.

The appreciation of the audience who gave her standing ovation with a thunderous applause, spoke volumes and one hopes gives Sagarika the determination to pursue her dance further in her life.

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